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Tag Archives: gun laws

A big day for a little man

It was a big day yesterday for our newly minted Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton.

Firstly, Dutton’s hand-picked choice to head his paramilitary Border Force, a colleague from his days as a Queensland copper, was finally sacked for using his position to get his girlfriend a job and for not disclosing the relationship.  Roman Quaedvlieg is obviously held to a higher standard than Barnaby Joyce who just took a self-imposed temporary demotion for the same thing.

Then we hear that, after meeting with Bob Katter’s son-in-law, who happens to be one of the largest gun importers in the country, Dutton is considering forming an advisory board where the gun lobbyists decide on the suitability of legislation.

That’s like letting the aluminium smelters advise us on emissions reduction or the cotton farmers advise us on water management.  Or letting the mining companies devise a mining tax that costs them nothing.

But this is about more guns in our society – a move that could change Australia forever because once the dam is broken, there is no going back.

And then to round off a big day for a little man, we witnessed the ridiculous farce of the Minister, purely on the basis of a television show he watched, offering to rescue “white” South African farmers from the “horrific circumstances” and “persecution” they are facing in their country.

“I do think, on the information that I’ve seen, people do need help and they need help from a civilised country like ours,” Mr Dutton said.

Except no-one asked for his help.  The farmers responded by saying that, surprisingly, they don’t want to walk away from their homes and livelihoods.

The South African government were furious.  Who are you calling uncivilised?

They hauled in Canberra’s High Commissioner for a diplomatic ticking off, demanding that Dutton retract his comments.

And that doesn’t even address the blatant racism in Dutton’s stupid comments.

Dutton was voted worst health minister ever by people in the industry.  As Immigration Minister, he has been singularly unable to find a solution for the resettlement of refugees trapped on Manus and Nauru.  The deal with the US was negotiated by Turnbull, not Dutton.

He is a proven liar, telling us that a disturbance on Manus Island was caused by locals reacting to asylum seekers luring their children away for evil purposes, when, in fact, the asylum seekers gave the child some fruit and it was drunken military arguing over a football pitch who started shooting at the refugees.

There have been countless scathing reports and reviews on the dysfunction in the DIBP detailing the lack of management and due process.

Dutton walked out on Kevin Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generation.  He has made innumerable gaffes – joking about islands in the Pacific being inundated, calling a journalist a mad fucking witch in a text in support of a sexual harasser, which he then sent to the journalist by mistake.

The list of ineptitude is long.  In fact, I cannot think of one achievement, one positive contribution, that Dutton has made in over 16 years suckling on the public teat, other than expanding his property portfolio.

So why has this inadequate politician been made the most powerful man in the country?  Why is he touted as a future leader for the Liberal Party?

It’s got me beat.

Australia’s gun laws are the envy of Obama

I like this ‘Your Say’ section. I can have a say, basically, and keep it simple.

So keep this simple I will.

With some ultra Right-wing politicians calling for the relaxation of the guns laws which were introduced by John Howard after the Port Arthur massacre, it’s probably a good time to hear from the president of a country whose gun laws are the same as those few politicians – and some of our citizens, I assume – are calling for.

Australia’s strict gun laws are considered a role model for Obama, who presides over a country that arguably has more gun deaths than any other, and who has had the unenviable duty to deliver statements on gun violence 15 times. When’s the last time an Australian prime minister has had to do that?  Howard, 1996.

Anyway, this little snippet from an article in The New York Times, ‘How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings‘ is worth throwing out there:

In the continuing debate over how to stop mass killings in the United States, Australia has become a familiar touchstone.

President Obama has cited the country’s gun laws as a model for the United States, calling Australia a nation “like ours.” On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton has said the Australian approach is “worth considering.” The National Rifle Association has dismissed the policies, contending that they “robbed Australians of their right to self-defense and empowered criminals” without reducing violent crime.

The oft-cited statistic in Australia is a simple one: There have been no mass killings — defined by experts there as a gunman killing five or more people besides himself — since the nation significantly tightened its gun control laws almost 20 years ago.

This was not the first occasion on which Obama praised our gun laws:

After the shooting at Umpqua Community College, a visibly angry President Obama pointedly noted the contrasting responses in the United States and its allies to gun violence.

“Other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” he said on Thursday. “Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.”

And we have idiot politicians here who want our gun laws relaxed.

I shake my head in disbelief.

They need to speak to Obama.

Libertarian loony or Tea Party turkey?

It is time that people started paying more attention to the harm that Senator David Leyonhjelm is doing to our country.

As gun deaths in the US rapidly approach 10,000 in 2015 alone, our libertarian wheeler dealer wants to send us down the same path.

This is the same guy who wants to get rid of pool fences and bike helmets while thanking Australian smokers for their ongoing contribution to the economy (not to mention the political donations from the tobacco companies). He’s anti-nanny state – unless it’s those evil wind farms in which case we must mobilise all forces to destroy an industry which is apparently causing great anxiety for a few people who find them noisy, ugly things. (Tell that to the people in the Hunter Valley.)

Leyonhjelm will unashamedly sell his vote in the Senate to get his way.

In August, he forced the Abbott government into a partial retreat on a ban on imports of a new rapid-action shotgun. Leyonhjelm boasted in the Senate that he had undertaken political “blackmail” – in return for the government’s backflip, he abandoned a plan to vote for an entirely unrelated Labor amendment that would have required an adult or guardian to be present when blood, saliva or fingerprints are taken from children by the Australia’s Border Force.

“We are not happy the federal government has placed a ban on imports of lever-action shotguns with a capacity of more than five rounds – commonly called the Adler ban – while it reviews the National Firearms Agreement … Last week I managed to blackmail the government into adding a 12-month sunset clause to its Adler ban,” he told the Senate.

When Lenore Taylor wrote about his complicity, Leyonhjelm responded with a tweet

“Lever actions are over 100 years old. Lenore Taylor and her ilk should stick to things they know, whatever that is.”

During the week, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson said “The idea that taking guns away from the law-abiding will make us safer is insane and childish.”

“What people always throw out there, is look at Australia, they have no gun violence, they don’t have guns, their citizens aren’t allowed to have guns. But they have no freedom, you can go to prison for expressing unpopular views in Australia and people do.”

When Ben Pobjie wrote an amusing article for the Drum in response to this ridiculous claim, Leyonhjelm tweeted

“People who don’t understand freedom shouldn’t write about it. Especially when they try but fail to be funny.”

What is not funny is this man’s ignorance.

The 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA) banned semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns, bought back more than 650,000 of these weapons from existing owners, and tightened requirements for licensing, registration, and safe storage of firearms. The buyback is estimated to have reduced the number of guns in private hands by 20%, and, by some estimates, almost halved the number of gun-owning households.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that after the buyback, the percentage of robberies where the assailant used a firearm did drop significantly. There was little change in “unlawful entry with intent,” one of the few types of crime where one might make a case for a possible deterrent effect of having a gun in the home.

The massive Australian gun buyback occurred over two calendar years, 1996-97. Firearm homicide and firearm suicide dropped substantially in both years, for a cumulative two-year drop in firearm homicide of 46% and in firearm suicide of 43%. Never in any two year period, from 1915-2004 had firearm suicide dropped so precipitously.

Since the gun laws were introduced there have been no mass shootings in Australia. In the US, at last count, there had been 297 so far in 2015. While almost a million guns were handed in and destroyed in the post-Port Arthur amnesty, imports have now taken the national gun inventory back to 1996 levels.

Leyonhjelm has already said that he will contest the 2019 election to rewin a Senate seat for the Liberal Democrats but has no intention of serving the term. We must make absolutely certain that this does not happen. Until then, we are reliant on the other crossbench Senators to keep this Tea Party turkey at bay.

 

I won’t be carrying a gun, and I don’t want you to either

“What happened in that cafe would be most unlikely to have occurred in Florida, Texas, or Vermont, or Alaska in America, or perhaps even Switzerland as well,” Senator Leyonhjelm told ABC Radio — adding at least “one or two” there would have had a concealed gun.

If that’s the likely case, then I’m to assume that dozens of people would have been carrying arms at Port Arthur on April 28, 1996. Somebody could have taken out Martin Bryant.

And guns might have been blazing at Julian Knight in Hoddle Street, Melbourne, August 9, 1987.

But despite our gun laws at the time, Australians simply weren’t in the habit of entering restaurants, using public transport, visiting the zoo or going to the cricket armed to the teeth.

Senator Leyonhjelm would like to see us get into the habit. He wants us to carry a weapon so we can, in a nutshell, kill people should the need arise. Just how many nutcases does he want to see armed?

It’s ludicrous for him to postulate that the outcome that evolved in Martin Place would have been ‘unlikely’ in America because armed citizens could have easily dealt with the perpetrator. He needs to do a bit of research on the mass shootings in America and note how many of the murderers were taken out by an armed citizen. I think he’ll find that all – or if not all, then close to it – were left to the police to deal with.

What happened in Martin Place was tragic. Very tragic. And despite the deaths of two innocent people I’d rather live in a country where such situations were always left to the police.

I won’t be carrying a gun anywhere, and I hope don’t want you too either.

How many children’s lives will Tony’s jets cost?

Despite the tragedy of gun crime and the seemingly never-ending massacres in the USA, most Americans are against any changes to their gun laws. Even the most moderate individuals believe they must own a gun to defend their family and property regardless of the fact that they have never had to actually use it. The fact that they have a gun sitting there is security for them and a deterrent for would be attackers. Perhaps their society has deteriorated so far that this is their reality – it is certainly their mentality.

They have the same ‘deterrence’ mentality when it comes to their defence forces. They are the biggest and the best. They see themselves as the world police and this is no doubt true to a large degree, even if you disagree with their policing methods and targets.

The Washington foreign policy establishment is accustomed to the authority, prestige, and privilege of being the overwhelmingly dominant power on the planet. There are politically powerful military contractors that also have a voice in U.S. foreign and military policy. But is it really necessary?

The U.S. lost most of its influence in Latin America over the past 15 years, and the region has done quite well, with a sharp reduction in poverty for the first time in decades. The Washington-based International Monetary Fund has also lost most of its influence over the middle-income countries of the world, and these have also done remarkably better in the 2000s.

There is a widespread belief that if the United States does not run the world, somebody worse — possibly China — will. Using a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China will displace the U.S. as the world’s largest economy this year. The money that China needs to build a fighter jet or pay military personnel is a lot less than the equivalent in dollars that the U.S. has to pay for the same goods and services, and they have 1.3 billion people.

So should we be worried?

China is a rising power, but the government does not seem to be interested in building an empire. Unlike the United States, which has hundreds of military bases throughout the globe, China doesn’t have any. The Chinese government seems to be very focused on economic growth; trying to become a developed country as soon as it can. Their standard of living is generally lower and they have a long way to go to become a rich country so are most unlikely to start a war that would cut off their markets and supply chain.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2012 the US spent over $682 billion or 4.4% of GDP on defence. Globally, $1.756 trillion was spent on defence with Australia contributing 1.4% of that – some $26.5 billion or 1.6% of GDP.

Even though we have been told that the country has a budget emergency and that everyone must face cuts and contribute to improving our fiscal position, there will be no cuts to defence spending. Quite the contrary, the Coalition wants defence spending to be doubled to $50 billion a year within a decade and have commissioned yet another white paper.

Senator Johnston wanted academic and noted commentator Alan Dupont to write the report, and Mr Dupont had begun work in the Defence Department and had assembled a team to work on the document. However, the appointment was never confirmed and “The Prime Minister’s Office” decided that the white paper would be written within the Defence Department as John Howard had done previously.

Senior sources have said that even a defence budget of $50bn by 2023 could not afford the defence force outlined in the 2009 white paper, and confirmed in its 2013 successor. I doubt this year’s effort will suggest any cutbacks since Tony got a chance to sit in a fighter jet. Asking the defence forces how much they need is like giving a kid the keys to the candy store.

And what do we get for this huge expenditure? Do we really need to send tens of billions of dollars out of our economy to the US for fighter jets or to the Japanese for submarines or to South Korea to say thanks for the Free Trade Agreement? What do our submarines and fighter jets actually do? Why would China invade us when we are happy to sell them the country for a fraction of what a war would cost?

Whatever the internal political systems of the countries whose representation in the international arena will increase, the end result is likely to be more democratic governance at the international level, with a greater rule of international law, fewer wars, and more social and economic progress. There will be more negotiation and less orders.

In 2010, 15.1 percent of all persons in America lived in poverty. 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent, were poor. In Australia, 17.2% of our children live in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.”

Homelessness, poor health, hunger—poverty’s consequences can be severe. Growing up in poverty can harm children’s well-being and development and limit their opportunities and academic success. And poverty imposes huge costs on society through lost productivity and higher spending on health care and incarceration.

Some theorists have accused the poor of having little concern for the future and preferring to “live for the moment”; others have accused them of engaging in self‐defeating behavior. Still other theorists have characterized the poor as fatalists, resigning themselves to a culture of poverty in which nothing can be done to change their economic outcomes. In this culture of poverty—which passes from generation to generation—the poor feel negative, inferior, passive, hopeless, and powerless.

The “blame the poor” perspective is stereotypic and not applicable to all of the underclass. Not only are most poor people able and willing to work hard, they do so when given the chance. The real trouble has to do with such problems as minimum wages and lack of access to the education necessary for obtaining a better‐paying job when unemployment is increasing.

I once saw a t-shirt that said “Definition of a Canadian: an unarmed American with health care”. Whilst there is much to admire about America, they are a very different country to us with a very different mentality to us. Letting them dictate to us about defence capability is no more sensible than following their lead on gun laws. We have universal healthcare and free education. They don’t. Let’s not swap our priorities for theirs.

Tony Abbott was in the habit of counting Labor’s deficit in lost “teaching hospitals”. How many children’s lives will Tony’s jets cost?

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